The Legal Challenges of Social Media
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The Legal Challenges of Social Media

Edited by David Mangan and Lorna E. Gillies

Social media enables instant access to individual self-expression and the sharing of information. Social media issues are boundless, permeating distinct legal disciplines. The law has struggled to adapt and for good reason: how does the law regulate this medium over the public/private law divide? This book engages with the legal implications of social media from public and private law perspectives and outlines how the law, in various legal sub-disciplines and with varying success, has endeavoured to adapt existing tools to social media.
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Chapter 8: Social media, sporting figures and the regulation of morality

Robin D. Barnes and Paul Wragg


This chapter addresses the phenomenon of social media use to hold sports personalities to account for perceived lapses of moral judgement. There have been many examples, in the US and UK, in which sporting figures have been outed and then pilloried through social media for privately held racist, sexist or homophobic outlooks. These mob-handed campaigns ridicule and ostracise, and coerce repentance and conformity. Although the problem straddles public and private law issues, this chapter explores the adequacy of private law to afford either meaningful protection or compensation to those affected. To keep matters manageable, this chapter will focus on UK law. It will be argued that although the threat to individuality raises genuine issues of privacy invasion, the law offers only thin protection to victims. Building upon the work of Wragg, it will be argued that the misuse of private information tort may be developed so that victims are protected from coercive uses of social media to regulate their moral behaviour. This chapter expands upon the meaning of coercion for these purposes. Keywords: social media; privacy; freedom of expression; human rights; harm; liberty

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